color Beyond Kandinsky: Defining the Spiritual, further

The year 2011 marks the centennial of the publication of Wassily Kandinsky's classic text, On the Spiritual in Art. Inspired by this anniversary, this project set out to explore the place of the spiritual in contemporary art and to propose a challenge to the current devaluation of the inner life that prevails within the art world in our market-driven era.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, a ten-day virtual symposium moderated by Taney Roniger and Eric Zechman was held in this forum. The symposium closed on the evening of Friday, April 8th. Below is the full record of the proceedings.

Panelists invited to participate were: Suzanne Anker, Laura Battle, Connie Beckley, Anney Bonney, Deirdre Boyle, Nathaniel Dorsky, Jeff Edwards, James Elkins, Max Gimblett, Tom Huhn, Atta Kim, Roger Lipsey, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Joseph Nechvatal, Daniel Siedell, Charlene Spretnak, David Levi Strauss, Alan Wanzenberg, and Pawel Wojtasik. For participant biographies and other project details, please visit our site:


March 30th–April 1st: Session I: The Spiritual Then and Now

April 2nd–April 3rd: Session II: The Changing Shape of Art

April 4th-5th: Session III: Art and Its Audience

April 6th–April 7th: Session IV: The Artist in Society

April 8th: Conclusions


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Defining the Spiritual, further

It seems that to have an experience of the spiritual requires presence and attentiveness (I'm thinking that one has to be conscious of the experience in order for one to categorize it as a "spiritual" experience). How is the increasing incursion of technology into our lives (in terms of the time spent attentively online and in communication with others, ie, distracted by texting, emailing) affecting the likelihood of having such experiences? Or is it?


  1. that's true. Every coin has both sides. If someone is aware of the negative side and partially avoid that, the positive side will show up as the "connected spiritual" ?

  2. It depends Eric. The distraction problem is real. However, the digital phantasmagorical, one may assume, might also create an opportunity for social image transgression - and for a vertiginous ecstasy of thought. Surely, such a hybrid electronica/phantasmal impetus can help release pent up ecstatic energies in that the more overwhelming and restrictive the social mechanism, the more exaggerated are the resulting effects - and hence excel the assumed determinism of the technological-based phenomenon inherent (supposedly) in our post-industrial information society.
    An artistic phantasmal thought might detach itself from the order and authority of the old sign and topple us down into the realm of imagination, of fantasy, and into non-knowledge - towards imagining questions rather than pat assigned answers. Perhaps the digital-phantasmagorical in art might just help us to understand that the distractions of the virtual AND "real world" (like money) are made up of phantasmal non-materiality composed and recomposed via virtuality.